Certified organic gardening nurseries are sprouting up all over the country. As consumers become more aware of the benefits of organic products, the demand for such products continues to grow. Garden industry professionals see the value in providing customers with the products that they want to buy. Not only do their wallets benefit, so does the entire earth.
In The Beginning
In 1986, The Natural Gardening Company became the first certified organic garden nursery in the United States. Located in Sonoma, California, this trend-setting garden nursery helped to develop many of the guidelines in place today for other nurseries seeking organic certification.
Today they continue to offer certified organic vegetable, herb and flower plants along with certified seeds and gardening supplies. With a wide variety of healthy seedlings at reasonable prices, The National Gardening Company has set the bar high for other certified organic gardening nurseries around the country.
According to the USDA, in 2005 there were 3,331 certified organic nurseries in the United States. This reflects amazing growth when you consider that there were only 121 such nurseries in 2002. Why such an explosive rise in numbers?
In the past, consumers have been easily able to find products to help them grow their plants organically. Items from organic fertilizers and growing mediums to organic pest control products lined the shelves. However, finding plants that were organically grown proved difficult.
Typically, growers raise their plants with a chemical soup of synthetic nutrients and hormones. This creates lovely foliage but does not encourage strong root development. In her book Indoor Gardening the Organic Way, author Julie Bawden-Davis recommends "detoxing" nursery plants by leaching out accumulated chemicals and salts and re-potting in an organic, nutrient-rich soil.
Thankfully, with increased demand for better choices in garden plants, growers have begun to offer easier solutions. Because they see that consumers are willing to pay for quality organic garden plants and seeds, they are willing to make the effort to become certified organic garden nurseries. It is a win-win situation.
Finding Certified Organic Gardening Nurseries
Even though the numbers are growing, it can still be difficult to locate certified organic gardening nurseries locally. For example, if you live in Alabama you may not find any certified nurseries. In California, on the other hand, you will find an abundance of nurseries.
One way to find organic plants for your garden is to purchase from small, local growers. If you decide to do this, use caution; most small growers are not certified. While they may be using organic practices to raise their plants, without certification you have no guarantee.
Two programs have been started to assist the smaller grower in becoming certified. One such program, VeriFlora, provides certification to growers of nursery plants and cut flowers via an independent auditing company called Scientific Certification Systems or SCS. SCS makes sure that growers are using sustainable, organic practices to produce their products.
The other program, Circle of Life from the Ball Horticultural Company, promotes sustainable growing practices that will bring quality plants in biodegradable pots to home gardeners. You can find a retailer that carries Circle of Life plants by going to the retailers page and finding your state in the drop-down menu.
If you are unsuccessful in locating a local certified organic nursery, there are still options available to you. Here are a few online sources for certified organic garden plants and seeds:
- The Natural Gardening Company of California is the oldest certified organic nursery in the country.
- Crimson Sage offers certified organic herbs and medicinal plants. This northwest California nursery has been selling healthy, guaranteed plants for 20 years.
- Mountain Valley Growers of California provides certified organic herbs and perennials as well as gardening supplies.
If you still are unable to find what you need, consider starting your own plants from organic seeds. This will assure that you know exactly what is going into growing your plants. Soon, certified organic nurseries will be everywhere. Until then, make your needs known at your local nurseries. If enough people ask, they will listen.